Alcazar doesn’t let much stand in his way of putting in a day’s work. Even after undergoing colic surgery, he came back stronger and sooner than expected.
Katherine Bateson Chandler and Jane Forbes Clark’s Dutch Warmblood gelding (Contango—Polina, Derro) have been showing international Grand Prix since 2015, but at 16 years old, “Lonzie” is in the prime of his career, most recently finishing second in the CDI5* Grand Prix at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (Florida) in February.
“He’s quite a tough horse,” Chandler said. “He’s had a colic surgery, and he’s had a couple of minor injuries over the years, and he’s never, ever been lame one day in his life. He came back from his colic surgery super-fast. It’s actually pretty incredible. He had the surgery while we were competing at Aachen [Germany] in 2016. We were in the Grand Prix, and then he went in and had surgery the next day while we were supposed to be riding our Grand Prix Special. We tried to do all of the right things for him, and he came back, exactly as the plan went. We took our time, we hacked for almost two months. I was lucky we were in England so we could go out hacking on the roads for an hour each day, which I think was the best thing for him. After rehab we put him back to work, and he was amazing. Now the vets look at him and say that they can’t even tell that he had surgery. He healed that well.”
So, what makes this special horse tick? We went behind the stall door to learn more about Alcazar.
• Lonzie is a talker. “In the barn he is very friendly,” said Chandler. “Though sometimes he doesn’t look so friendly; he puts his ears back, but he doesn’t mean it. He would never kick; he would never bite. He’s very spoiled. Luckily, I can look out my bathroom window, and I can see him in his stall, and when my car pulls into the driveway, he yells to me. When I walk down the aisle, he yells to me. He’s used to getting a carrot every time he speaks, so he’s a bit like a trained dog in that way! He can be a little insecure, and he doesn’t like not having ‘his people’ around him; he’s much more attached to his people than horses. He could be all on his own as long as he’s got my husband Carl [Chandler] and I.”
• Speaking of being more dog than horse, Lonzie is always looking for scritches. “He is always super itchy!” Katherine said. “I can’t clean his stall with him in it, and I can’t hand graze him anymore because he’s always begging to be itched. All he wants me to do is scratch him. He loves it.”
• Lonzie arrived without a sweet tooth, but he soon learned better. “When I first got him, he wouldn’t eat sugar,” said Katherine. “They said, ‘No, he doesn’t eat sugar,’ and I said, ‘Well, he’s going to learn!’ Now of course he loves everything.”
• When it comes to competition, for Lonzie it’s “go big or go home.”
“The bigger the venue the better at this point,” Katherine said. “He loves a big stadium. He was really amazing in Aachen. He goes in there and really puffs up and enjoys it. The more mature he’s become, the better he’s been in bigger venues, and the bigger the atmosphere, the better he goes.”
• Lonzie is a road trip professional. “He’s a really, really a good traveler,” Katherine said. “He can travel on his own; he can travel with others. He pretty much loads himself, and he eats hay the whole way.”
• He comes to work every day with enthusiasm. “In his work he’s a very, very active horse,” Katherine said. “He’s got a lot of expression. His piaffe and passage work is really amazing, and we’re sort of starting to get that in the ring now. He’s a powerhouse with a great work ethic. He’s like a little tank. So, to me, that is his biggest strength.”
• The 2019 Aachen CDIO5* is a career highlight. “I have a lot of favorite moments,” Katherine said, “but I think you get that over time with a horse like this. We’ve done some really fun freestyles at AGDF. I’d have to say probably our best show was at Aachen in 2019 because we had three personal-best scores. I couldn’t believe that we kept moving to the next round, and then moving to the next round, and he got all the way to the freestyle and did great in that class.”
• His history is no mystery. “He has two full sisters that are almost ponies,” said Katherine. “They’re 15-hand mares who ended up becoming broodmares and have been bred to some really nice stallions in Holland. I still stay in touch with his breeders, and they’re all really proud of how far he has come. It’s really fun that they want to follow his career. Every time I show I get messages from them, and they send me pictures of him as a foal, and it’s just nice that we can stay in touch. I know everything about him, from the day he was born up until right now.”